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Increasing Awareness of the Homeless

Posted: 11/19/2010

Skidmore students in a class titled “Human Behavior and the Social Environment” aligned with the Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), a shelter for the homeless, for several activities during National Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 14-19.

Whether due to the economy, personal circumstances, or a combination, homelessness in Saratoga Springs appears to be rising.  At least 75 people without shelter were recorded in a survey earlier this year, with 89 families (totaling 196 individuals) living in emergency housing. The family count one year ago was 36. As the only shelter in Warren, Washington, and Saratoga counties, Shelters of Saratoga provides short-term housing, food and clothing, and access to agencies that can help with job placement and permanent housing.

Professor Crystal Dea Moore, who teaches the class, explained, “The goal of the project was to raise resources for an awareness of the issue of homelessness in our community.” Working with Palio Communications, students assisted with the placement of chalk drawings throughout the downtown to remind people of the city’s homeless population. In addition, students helped with a weeklong collection of food and personal products. They also publicized and participated in a candlelight vigil in downtown Saratoga Springs. Held on a blustery and damp evening, the vigil featured a number of speakers, including recently homeless people. Although candles were dimmed, spirits were not, as the nearly 100 people attending heard of lives changed through the work of SOS.

Other activities included an on-campus discussion about the homeless in Saratoga Springs, the screening of the documentary film Carts of Darkness, and a community-wide coin drive that will continue through December. One student said, “Many of us learned a significant amount about what homelessness actually looks like in Saratoga. We got a good sense of what the shelter does and learned that homelessness is caused by many reasons. “

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